Latino groups are calling on immigrants in Georgia to skip work on Friday and refrain from buying anything. That’s the day the state’s new immigration law, known as House Bill 87, goes into effect.
The Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights organized the effort before a federal judge blocked parts of the law on Monday.
The state said it would appeal, so organizers still plan to hold the Friday acts of protest and a march on Saturday.
But some business leaders who also oppose the law say the boycott won’t help anyone.
Karen Bremer is with the Georgia Restaurant Association.
“There are some business people who plan to walk on Saturday to show solidarity with their employees and with the people who are affected by HB 87,” Bremer said. “But the general consensus is that by having a work stoppage, it really hurts the individuals that the business community has been trying to help.”
Judge Thomas Thrash blocked parts of the law that would allow the police to check the immigration status of some criminal suspects, and would penalize people who transport or harbor illegal immigrants.
Attorney Charles Kuck, who represents some of the plaintiffs, said in simplest terms, the judge ruled that states cannot make immigration policy.
“He relied on two Supreme Court cases, one from 1940 and one a little bit more recent that said basically it is the purview of the federal government and Congress to enact and enforce immigration-related laws. Period,” Kuck said in an interview.
In his 45-page ruling, Judge Thrash said an illegal immigrant’s “mere presence” in the U.S. is not a federal crime in and of itself.
A spokesman for Gov. Nathan Deal expressed disappointment that the court blocked parts of the law, and said this is not the last word on the issue.
“Curiously, the court writes ‘all illegal aliens will leave Georgia’ if the law is enforced, as if it is appalled at the thought of people attaining visas before coming to our nation,” said Brian Robinson, the governor’s deputy chief of staff for communications, in a statement. “The federal court’s ruling, however, will crystallize for Georgians and other Americans our underlying problem: Beyond refusing to help with our state’s illegal immigration problem, the federal government is determined to be an obstacle. The state of Georgia narrowly tailored its immigration law to conform with existing federal law and court rulings. Georgians can rest assured that this battle doesn’t end here; we will appeal this decision.”
It’s unclear how successful the boycott will be. But farmers in South Georgia have been reporting a labor shortage since Gov. Nathan Deal signed the immigration law in May. Some have told the state department of agriculture that they’ve had to leave crops to rot in the fields because they did not have enough manpower to harvest.